Pasack Valley School Board Tackles Auditorium Renovation and Budget Challenges

During the recent Pasack Valley School Board meeting, discussions centered around the renovation of the school auditoriums and the challenges of the 2024-2025 budget. The board addressed concerns over the complexities of the auditorium project, including asbestos abatement and its potential impact on school operations. Additionally, the budget report highlighted increased costs and the need for a comprehensive room usage study across the district.

The focal point of the meeting was the auditorium project at both school buildings, which aimed to create safer and more practical learning environments for performing arts and theater programs. The project had faced setbacks with three failed bids, leading to negotiations to reduce costs. Directors of Visual and Performing Arts presented the project’s scope, which included abating asbestos, renovating the ceiling, and installing new lighting and sound equipment. Concerns were raised regarding the project’s timeline and the impact of asbestos removal on school schedules. The board sought reassurance that the renovations would not disrupt school operations significantly.

Furthermore, the need for stakeholder buy-in was emphasized, with the board wanting to ensure the project met everyone’s needs. The principal of Pasack Hills noted the difficulties experienced due to the loss of the auditorium for half a school year and commended the creative solutions devised by the music and theater departments to continue activities during construction. A parent voiced support for the physical improvements but called for an enhanced academic focus and additional resources for the theater program.

The finance committee’s report was a part of the meeting, detailing the struggles of the upcoming budget. Rising costs in benefits, salaries, student transportation, and special education programs were among the challenges highlighted. However, the report also noted an increase in state aid and budget adjustments to maintain balance.

Student achievements were recognized, including National Merit Scholarship finalists and a student’s success in the New Jersey All State Wind Ensemble. Additionally, the schools’ receipt of the 2023-2024 ITA International Technology and Engineering Educators Association STEM School of Excellence award was celebrated, as were the first team all Bergen County students for their achievements in various sports.

The meeting also addressed the use of school facilities by town-based organizations, calling for clarity on the allocation of facility use and field time. Concerns about the financial burden on families involved in extracurricular activities were raised, emphasizing the need for transparency regarding expenses.

Discussions about a new locker room project surfaced, with members debating the completeness of the presented plans. The potential inclusion of the locker room project in a larger referendum was contemplated, along with the need for a comprehensive room usage study. Opinions varied on the timeline for initiating the study and the prioritization of school-based groups over outside organizations for facility usage.

The board considered the allocation of surplus funds towards the locker room project, with uncertainty surrounding the available amount. There was support for reinstating a committee to address field usage and club finances. The robotics team was praised, and a student-led initiative for a local reservoir cleanup was suggested. Questions arose about school taxes and the effects of reassessments, with the board clarifying that the tax levy for schools is capped at a 2% increase and that the townships should be consulted for further information.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Sarah Bilotti
School Board Officials:
Gini Varghese, Joseph Blundo, Elizabeth Calderone, Stephanie Huang, Pat Luisi, Kristin Martin, James Stankus, Debra Stephans, Michael Weaver

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